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Symbols and Meanings


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#1 wolfmaid7

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:25 PM

Hey everyone in the world of ASOFAI:

If anything GRRM has proven he is the master of tapestry.He weaves within his stories intriguing plots that have far reaching repercussions. More than anything i love the beautiful symbolism he has employed throughout these books; when they hit you it can be an aha moment that forecast an ominous sign or providence.

As i began my re-read the scene that occurred when the the Dire-wolves were found hit me like a ton of bricks.The symbolism interpreted to me was important. Both the Dire wolf and the Stag died because of the injury they inflicted on each other,but while the Stag remained dead, the Dire wolf whelps remained. Of course to me the Stag being the symbol of the Baratheon house showed what would happen to the significant people of that house. Both Robert and Renly bit the dust,does that mean Stannis will follow. As for House Stark the Dire-wolf is more than just their symbol, it is a symbol of the North itself.So though the North and the Starks suffered a blow, there remains hope in the Whelps.

What do you guys think? and what other symbols in the books have you all seen and what are you're intepretation of these subtle signs?

#2 Kham of the Gods Wood

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 07:30 PM

That was a great observation.
I too think the series is packed with symbols and precursors. Take Viserys and his Golden crown. That was all he talked about and he got exactly what he asked for. Also, the symbolism of the heat involved in his death, proving that he was not really "Blood of the Dragon" as Dany is. Dany is not phased by scalding hot water in her bath and handles dragon eggs without burns, while Viserys once or twice complained about things being too hot for his liking.

#3 StarkTagaryen

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:17 PM

couldn't agree more, that is such a strong symbol, as is the sigils of the other major houses, there's also a ton of major archetypes
Spoiler
The Seven, the number seven in medieval literature/in the middle ages was considered to be magical
I don't know if anyone else thought of this or if it has been pointed out elsewhere but the Lord of Light reminded me of an early Christ figure mainly because of the fire aspect, I think I've seen fire associated with Christianity (Holy Ghost)
I might be reading too much into some of the aspects of the book

#4 evita mgfs

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 09:52 PM

Hey everyone in the world of ASOFAI:

If anything GRRM has proven he is the master of tapestry.He weaves within his stories intriguing plots that have far reaching repercussions. More than anything i love the beautiful symbolism he has employed throughout these books; when they hit you it can be an aha moment that forecast an ominous sign or providence.

As i began my re-read the scene that occurred when the the Dire-wolves were found hit me like a ton of bricks.The symbolism interpreted to me was important. Both the Dire wolf and the Stag died because of the injury they inflicted on each other,but while the Stag remained dead, the Dire wolf whelps remained. Of course to me the Stag being the symbol of the Baratheon house showed what would happen to the significant people of that house. Both Robert and Renly bit the dust,does that mean Stannis will follow. As for House Stark the Dire-wolf is more than just their symbol, it is a symbol of the North itself.So though the North and the Starks suffered a blow, there remains hope in the Whelps.

What do you guys think? and what other symbols in the books have you all seen and what are you're intepretation of these subtle signs?


/bowdown.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':bowdown:' /> /bowdown.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':bowdown:' /> WOLFMAID: Nice observations!

I am leading a reread dealing specifically with the direwolves of House Stark as well as dragons [eggs], Mormont’s raven, and cats, oh my! So I have been writing a series of analytical pieces on symbols, so I have tons of items to contribute to this post. I will try to curb my enthusiasm and start with a basic color symbology: Grey. I do not extend this beyond evidences up through Chapter 15 of AgoT, so I am sure “grey” appears in important locations later in Martin’s series. Since we try [not very successfully] not to jump ahead, I often find it necessary when looking at the far-reaching relevance of Martin’s use of symbol. [BBTW/ you are welcome to post in our reread. We need some contributors, and with the holidays upon us, people have been taken away from the net in pursuit of other duties and the like!]



SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLOR GREY



The color grey in Martin’s ASoIaF is symbolic, and thus far in the series, Martin attaches “grey” to aspects of the Starks: Ned, Jon, and Arya have the Stark grey eyes. The world that is the cold north where Winterfell lies is “grey”. The Direwolves of House Stark are associated with “grey”: Grey Wind has “smoke grey fur” and yellow eyes. Lady has “grey fur” and yellow eyes. Nymeria has a hundred little grey cousins, and her eyes are yellow. Summer is silver and smoky grey with yellow eyes. [Shaggydog is all black with bright green eyes, and Ghost is all white with red eyes. Even though these wolves are not “grey”, they each distinguish a color that, when combined, makes “grey”: black and white].



Moreover, the banners of House Stark of Winterfell presents a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field. Ned’s Valyrian steel blade Ice was spell-forged, and is described as “dark as smoke” (14). The Wall often seems “a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky” (183). Maester Luwin wears grey robes, and Catelyn thinks of a grey rat when he pulls something from one of his many sleeves. The stone walls of Winterfell are grey, and are depicted as such in the graphic novel volume I. Last, Ned Stark’s ward from the Iron Islands is named Theon “Greyjoy”. Thus, as we progress through AGoT, we may find other applications of “grey” as a symbolically significant color.



According to The On-Line Dictionary of Symbology, [http://www.umich.edu...ml/G/gray.html]

·“Gray is often seen as neutral, depression, and humility.”

a.Neutral: Grey is the neutral of black and white. Or we could say that a “grey” character is part good and part evil, for white and black often represent goodness and evil, respectively.

b.Depression: King Robert finds the cold north grey and “depressing”. The grey-green colors of the godswood depress Catelyn.

c.Humility: the quality of being modest or respectful – Jon Snow is the most modest and respectful of the Starks from my view thus far. He always puts his brothers and sisters above his own personal gain, and he is obedient to a fault, even joining Benjen Stark at the Wall as a recruit for the Night’s Watch, as his father no doubt instructed him.

·“Ashes are usually grey in color, and therefore a natural correlation exists between the two.”

a.Ashes are relevant to many situations involving flames and burning in future POV’s.

b.In Catelyn’s next POV, the library tower in Winterfell is set on fire.

·“commonly views grey as symbolic of death of the body while the soul remains eternal.”

a.The dead Stark lords and Kings of Winter reside in the Winterfell crypts, a stone monument carved in their likenesses with a stone direwolf at their feet.

b.If the Stark remains are buried in the crypts, then perhaps the “soul” that “remains eternal” resides in the heart tree in the godswood of Winterfell.

·“Hebrew tradition relates the color grey to wisdom.”

a.I am not sure about the Hebrew religion, but I do know that in Homeric mythology and epics, Athene, the goddess of war and wisdom, is depicted as having grey eyes, and she is often called “owl-eyed Athene”, for the Greek deities were anthropomorphic and each god/goddess has an animal association. The “grey eyes” of Athene denotes “wisdom” just as the owl is a symbol of wisdom as well.

b.The grey eyes of Athene seemingly applies to the grey eyes of the Starks, which may suggest wisdom on some level.

c.The brain is often depicted as grey in color on anatomy charts, etc.



The meaning of the color grey as described in “The Herder Dictionary of Symbols: Symbols from Art, Archaeology, Literature and Religion” is as follows:

  • “Grey consists equally of black and white,”
  • I cannot think of an instance where black and white in equal proportions combine to make grey, but there are instances when black and white are significant, as in the direwolves Shaggydog and Ghost.
  • Jon Snow has a bastard last name of “Snow”, he owns a white direwolf, and he wears black as a brother of the Night’s Watch.
  • Jon Snow is Ice, and perhaps he will be balanced by a “black” force, or “fire”, which when it burns often chars and blackens what it feeds upon, ultimately leaving ash. [I am stretching here – but I also think of Dany’s Drogon and his counterpart Jon’s Ghost!].
  • “it is the color of mediation and compensating justice,”
  • Perhaps the “mediation” and justice” stem from #8, the grey cloak that Christ wears as judge at the Last Judgment.
  • Ned uses his sword Ice to deliver “the king’s justice”, as he does with a deserter of the Night’s Watch in Bran POV I of AGoT.
  • The maesters in their grey attire serve as mediators and advisers to their liege lords and family.
  • it is the color of “ intermediate realms” (e.g., in folk belief it is the color of the dead and of spirits that walk abroad).
  • In the graphic novel volume I, the crypts of Winterfell are depicted in shades of grey, which reaffirms #3.
  • “In Christianity it is the color of the resurrection of the dead and of the cloak that Christ wears as judge at the Last Judgment.”
  • If the crypts are associated with grey, then I suppose if the dead Starks and Kings of Winter rise, they may as well be grey, which fits with the grey association with the Starks and the north in general.
I apologize for the bold face. I am having format problems posting from a word document, and I cannot adjust it. /dunno.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':dunno:' />


#5 wolfmaid7

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:11 PM

couldn't agree more, that is such a strong symbol, as is the sigils of the other major houses, there's also a ton of major archetypes

Spoiler
The Seven, the number seven in medieval literature/in the middle ages was considered to be magical
I don't know if anyone else thought of this or if it has been pointed out elsewhere but the Lord of Light reminded me of an early Christ figure mainly because of the fire aspect, I think I've seen fire associated with Christianity (Holy Ghost)
I might be reading too much into some of the aspects of the book

I don't think you are, that is a great observation.Christianity,King Arthur seem to be all in there.

#6 wolfmaid7

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:13 PM

/bowdown.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':bowdown:' /> /bowdown.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':bowdown:' /> WOLFMAID: Nice observations!

I am leading a reread dealing specifically with the direwolves of House Stark as well as dragons [eggs], Mormont’s raven, and cats, oh my! So I have been writing a series of analytical pieces on symbols, so I have tons of items to contribute to this post. I will try to curb my enthusiasm and start with a basic color symbology: Grey. I do not extend this beyond evidences up through Chapter 15 of AgoT, so I am sure “grey” appears in important locations later in Martin’s series. Since we try [not very successfully] not to jump ahead, I often find it necessary when looking at the far-reaching relevance of Martin’s use of symbol. [BBTW/ you are welcome to post in our reread. We need some contributors, and with the holidays upon us, people have been taken away from the net in pursuit of other duties and the like!]



SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLOR GREY



The color grey in Martin’s ASoIaF is symbolic, and thus far in the series, Martin attaches “grey” to aspects of the Starks: Ned, Jon, and Arya have the Stark grey eyes. The world that is the cold north where Winterfell lies is “grey”. The Direwolves of House Stark are associated with “grey”: Grey Wind has “smoke grey fur” and yellow eyes. Lady has “grey fur” and yellow eyes. Nymeria has a hundred little grey cousins, and her eyes are yellow. Summer is silver and smoky grey with yellow eyes. [Shaggydog is all black with bright green eyes, and Ghost is all white with red eyes. Even though these wolves are not “grey”, they each distinguish a color that, when combined, makes “grey”: black and white].



Moreover, the banners of House Stark of Winterfell presents a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field. Ned’s Valyrian steel blade Ice was spell-forged, and is described as “dark as smoke” (14). The Wall often seems “a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky” (183). Maester Luwin wears grey robes, and Catelyn thinks of a grey rat when he pulls something from one of his many sleeves. The stone walls of Winterfell are grey, and are depicted as such in the graphic novel volume I. Last, Ned Stark’s ward from the Iron Islands is named Theon “Greyjoy”. Thus, as we progress through AGoT, we may find other applications of “grey” as a symbolically significant color.



According to The On-Line Dictionary of Symbology, [http://www.umich.edu...ml/G/gray.html]

·“Gray is often seen as neutral, depression, and humility.”

a.Neutral: Grey is the neutral of black and white. Or we could say that a “grey” character is part good and part evil, for white and black often represent goodness and evil, respectively.

b.Depression: King Robert finds the cold north grey and “depressing”. The grey-green colors of the godswood depress Catelyn.

c.Humility: the quality of being modest or respectful – Jon Snow is the most modest and respectful of the Starks from my view thus far. He always puts his brothers and sisters above his own personal gain, and he is obedient to a fault, even joining Benjen Stark at the Wall as a recruit for the Night’s Watch, as his father no doubt instructed him.

·“Ashes are usually grey in color, and therefore a natural correlation exists between the two.”

a.Ashes are relevant to many situations involving flames and burning in future POV’s.

b.In Catelyn’s next POV, the library tower in Winterfell is set on fire.

·“commonly views grey as symbolic of death of the body while the soul remains eternal.”

a.The dead Stark lords and Kings of Winter reside in the Winterfell crypts, a stone monument carved in their likenesses with a stone direwolf at their feet.

b.If the Stark remains are buried in the crypts, then perhaps the “soul” that “remains eternal” resides in the heart tree in the godswood of Winterfell.

·“Hebrew tradition relates the color grey to wisdom.”

a.I am not sure about the Hebrew religion, but I do know that in Homeric mythology and epics, Athene, the goddess of war and wisdom, is depicted as having grey eyes, and she is often called “owl-eyed Athene”, for the Greek deities were anthropomorphic and each god/goddess has an animal association. The “grey eyes” of Athene denotes “wisdom” just as the owl is a symbol of wisdom as well.

b.The grey eyes of Athene seemingly applies to the grey eyes of the Starks, which may suggest wisdom on some level.

c.The brain is often depicted as grey in color on anatomy charts, etc.



The meaning of the color grey as described in “The Herder Dictionary of Symbols: Symbols from Art, Archaeology, Literature and Religion” is as follows:

  • “Grey consists equally of black and white,”
  • I cannot think of an instance where black and white in equal proportions combine to make grey, but there are instances when black and white are significant, as in the direwolves Shaggydog and Ghost.
  • Jon Snow has a bastard last name of “Snow”, he owns a white direwolf, and he wears black as a brother of the Night’s Watch.
  • Jon Snow is Ice, and perhaps he will be balanced by a “black” force, or “fire”, which when it burns often chars and blackens what it feeds upon, ultimately leaving ash. [I am stretching here – but I also think of Dany’s Drogon and his counterpart Jon’s Ghost!].
  • “it is the color of mediation and compensating justice,”
  • Perhaps the “mediation” and justice” stem from #8, the grey cloak that Christ wears as judge at the Last Judgment.
  • Ned uses his sword Ice to deliver “the king’s justice”, as he does with a deserter of the Night’s Watch in Bran POV I of AGoT.
  • The maesters in their grey attire serve as mediators and advisers to their liege lords and family.
  • it is the color of “ intermediate realms” (e.g., in folk belief it is the color of the dead and of spirits that walk abroad).
  • In the graphic novel volume I, the crypts of Winterfell are depicted in shades of grey, which reaffirms #3.
  • “In Christianity it is the color of the resurrection of the dead and of the cloak that Christ wears as judge at the Last Judgment.”
  • If the crypts are associated with grey, then I suppose if the dead Starks and Kings of Winter rise, they may as well be grey, which fits with the grey association with the Starks and the north in general.
I apologize for the bold face. I am having format problems posting from a word document, and I cannot adjust it. /dunno.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':dunno:' />

your analysis is so detailed and pretty astonishing. I wonder if Martin takes into consideration these symbols when writing?

#7 evita mgfs

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 12:56 AM

your analysis is so detailed and pretty astonishing. I wonder if Martin takes into consideration these symbols when writing?


WOLFMAID 7: To answer your question, yes! I think Martin is an extremely detail-oriented writer with excellent organizational skills and a mind filled with ideas as deep as infinity. I suppose anything I might say about the writer will appear eulogistic because I am a great reader and lover of literature, and I will read classics, young adult literature, and the cereal box. So I feel I have as much authority as any astute reader to propose that Martin actually means what he writes, and those characters Martin discloses to his readers, as well as the places Martin envisions, have a purpose. Martin revisits characters and places, even if only through dreams or memories. He has created an amazing series with complex plot developments, which he tells through POV’s assigned only to a privileged set of characters, and he does this with a purpose and determination that marks him as a master of creating a fictional identity.

Martin labors over his writing, and he even writes major events from multiple POV’s before committing himself to one. This tedious process hints at how he may study adding an element and planning its importance before adding it randomly because it sounds good. I am sure he carries a little notebook to write down observations he makes while about his daily business when he is not writing. I imagine he has a mind that is always at work, and he can probably find inspiration in a fish aquarium in his doctor’s office!

Anyways, Martin may not be like Ireland’s James Joyce, author of Ulysses and Finnigan’s Wake, two novels that were monumental undertakings of Joyce who writes with meticulous meanness, and every word has symbolic relevance in relation to each chapter and its placement in the work as a whole. In Ulysses, the reader follows Leopold Bloom on his walking tour of Dublin, and when I visited Dublin, tourists can walk Leopold Bloom’s path and visit the bars he does in the novel, which takes place in a twenty-four hour day. The steps and the times are all coordinated to the minute and foot.
But Joyce wrote for the educated readers who wanted a substantial novel with a scholastic edge, and Joyce felt that he did not have to water-down his prose just so the average Joe could read and comprehend it. So in Joyce’s work, he uses punctuation marks as major symbols, enlarging the size of a period to encompass the entire page at the end of Molly Bloom’ s monologue, and as she finishes, her monthly visitor arrives, hence the “period”. Joyce’s works are literary classics, and although I respect Joyce as a writer and as a major contributor to modern fiction, I also find him exclusive and intimidating.
Martin is more like F. Scott Fitzgerald and his strong writing style demonstrated in The Great Gatsby, a novel that Martin referenced in an interview in Rolling Stone this past summer. Martin says, and I paraphrase, he has never attended Gatsby’s parties but they are more real to him than those he has attended. So, I think Martin is a Gatsby fan, and I even see a few parallels in Martin’s series with Fitzgerald’s novels: the bespeckled eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleberg, an advertisement for an optometrist on a billboard worn with age, watches over the Valley of the Ashes just as the brooding-faced heart tree watches over the people who pass in front of it in the godswood in Martin’s novel.

I had a professor who said that Fitzgerald, as Joyce, was arrogant and boasted in literary circles that scholars will never find all that he has hidden in The Great Gatsby! Despite his front of superiority, Fitzgerald does develop a literary masterpiece smartly written in nine compact chapters that also evidence the dominant theme of fertility in the novel, with the rivalry between East and West Egg, narrated by Nick Carraway, as in “carraway” seed.

Since Fitzgerald wrote simple prose loaded with symbolic significance, his writing appealed to those wanting more meaty fare as well as the popular masses looking for a good story about espionage, bootlegging, Prohibition, adultery, and money. Likewise, Martin’s series appeals to readers on many planes of scholarly analyses, but he also appeals to readers who want a great fantasy story with lots of action: thus, Martin makes sure to cover both realms of reader appreciation, which is awesome. That is why I say he is more like Fitzgerald.

Another writer who peppers his prose with literary elements is American satirist Mark Twain, who loved to include literary references to his name “twain”, or two. In his novel Huckleberry Finn, at the exact center of the text if you open it to the half-way point, Twain plants the technical climax where Huck decides “I will go to hell” which is pivotal because Huck decides to help free Jim even though to do so is against his religion and the law.

Also, Twain employs “doubles” and even places himself in his works. In Huck, Twain appears as the white-suited man balancing bareback on a horse running a ring in a circus Huck attends. Likewise, Jim is a double to pap, Huck’s father. Huck has several doubles, the most poignant Buck who is killed senselessly in a feud modeled after the Hatfield and McCoys.

Visit the thread entitled Homages where readers post the nods Martin makes to literary works as well as modern day pop culture, including little gems hidden in regards to athletes and sports teams. I have many posts paralleling Martin’s works to actual line-for-line passages from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I added my documentations of Martin’s homage to the great epics of Homer and Homeric myth.

So, to conclude, I do think Martin uses symbols decisively and deliberately. He juggles as many motifs as Fitzgerald in Gatsby, and Martin does it in fine form. If you are a reader who likes to delve into deeper meanings of a work, then Martin will appeal to you. Yet if you are a reader who wants a good story, Martin will appeal to you too.
Sorry for rambling. I love comparative literature, so finding such an awesome organization as Westeros, I finally have a venue to share my ideas with others, who may only find them long-winded an boring. Regardless, it is fun to write response and to read to observations others make about Martin’s series.

Thanks for a great thread topic!

Sorry about the font screw ups. Everytime I hit post, something screws up something in my post!

#8 evita mgfs

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:02 AM

WOLFMAID 7: To answer your question, yes! I think Martin is an extremely detail-oriented writer with excellent organizational skills and a mind filled with ideas as deep as infinity. I suppose anything I might say about the writer will appear eulogistic because I am a great reader and lover of literature, and I will read classics, young adult literature, and the cereal box. So I feel I have as much authority as any astute reader to propose that Martin actually means what he writes, and those characters Martin discloses to his readers, as well as the places Martin envisions, have a purpose. Martin revisits characters and places, even if only through dreams or memories. He has created an amazing series with complex plot developments, which he tells through POV’s assigned only to a privileged set of characters, and he does this with a purpose and determination that marks him as a master of creating a fictional identity.

Martin labors over his writing, and he even writes major events from multiple POV’s before committing himself to one. This tedious process hints at how he may study adding an element and planning its importance before adding it randomly because it sounds good. I am sure he carries a little notebook to write down observations he makes while about his daily business when he is not writing. I imagine he has a mind that is always at work, and he can probably find inspiration in a fish aquarium in his doctor’s office!

Anyways, Martin may not be like Ireland’s James Joyce, author of Ulysses and Finnigan’s Wake, two novels that were monumental undertakings of Joyce who writes with meticulous meanness, and every word has symbolic relevance in relation to each chapter and its placement in the work as a whole. In Ulysses, the reader follows Leopold Bloom on his walking tour of Dublin, and when I visited Dublin, tourists can walk Leopold Bloom’s path and visit the bars he does in the novel, which takes place in a twenty-four hour day. The steps and the times are all coordinated to the minute and foot.
But Joyce wrote for the educated readers who wanted a substantial novel with a scholastic edge, and Joyce felt that he did not have to water-down his prose just so the average Joe could read and comprehend it. So in Joyce’s work, he uses punctuation marks as major symbols, enlarging the size of a period to encompass the entire page at the end of Molly Bloom’ s monologue, and as she finishes, her monthly visitor arrives, hence the “period”. Joyce’s works are literary classics, and although I respect Joyce as a writer and as a major contributor to modern fiction, I also find him exclusive and intimidating.
Martin is more like F. Scott Fitzgerald and his strong writing style demonstrated in The Great Gatsby, a novel that Martin referenced in an interview in Rolling Stone this past summer. Martin says, and I paraphrase, he has never attended Gatsby’s parties but they are more real to him than those he has attended. So, I think Martin is a Gatsby fan, and I even see a few parallels in Martin’s series with Fitzgerald’s novels: the bespeckled eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleberg, an advertisement for an optometrist on a billboard worn with age, watches over the Valley of the Ashes just as the brooding-faced heart tree watches over the people who pass in front of it in the godswood in Martin’s novel.

I had a professor who said that Fitzgerald, as Joyce, was arrogant and boasted in literary circles that scholars will never find all that he has hidden in The Great Gatsby! Despite his front of superiority, Fitzgerald does develop a literary masterpiece smartly written in nine compact chapters that also evidence the dominant theme of fertility in the novel, with the rivalry between East and West Egg, narrated by Nick Carraway, as in “carraway” seed.

Since Fitzgerald wrote simple prose loaded with symbolic significance, his writing appealed to those wanting more meaty fare as well as the popular masses looking for a good story about espionage, bootlegging, Prohibition, adultery, and money. Likewise, Martin’s series appeals to readers on many planes of scholarly analyses, but he also appeals to readers who want a great fantasy story with lots of action: thus, Martin makes sure to cover both realms of reader appreciation, which is awesome. That is why I say he is more like Fitzgerald.

Another writer who peppers his prose with literary elements is American satirist Mark Twain, who loved to include literary references to his name “twain”, or two. In his novel Huckleberry Finn, at the exact center of the text if you open it to the half-way point, Twain plants the technical climax where Huck decides “I will go to hell” which is pivotal because Huck decides to help free Jim even though to do so is against his religion and the law.

Also, Twain employs “doubles” and even places himself in his works. In Huck, Twain appears as the white-suited man balancing bareback on a horse running a ring in a circus Huck attends. Likewise, Jim is a double to pap, Huck’s father. Huck has several doubles, the most poignant Buck who is killed senselessly in a feud modeled after the Hatfield and McCoys.

Visit the thread entitled References and Homages http://asoiaf.wester...es-and-homages/where readers post the nods Martin makes to literary works as well as modern day pop culture, including little gems hidden in regards to athletes and sports teams. I have personally made many posts paralleling Martin’s works to actual line-for-line passages from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Moreover, as a Homer groupie, I posted documented evidence from the texts of Martin’s homages to the great epics of Homer and Homeric myth, The Iliad and Odyssey.

So, to conclude, I do think Martin uses symbols decisively and deliberately. He juggles as many motifs as Fitzgerald in Gatsby, and Martin does it in fine form. If you are a reader who likes to delve into deeper meanings of a work, then Martin will appeal to you. Yet if you are a reader who wants a good story, Martin will appeal to you too.

Sorry for rambling. I love comparative literature, so finding such an awesome organization as Westeros, I finally have a venue to share my ideas with others, who may only find them long-winded and boring. Regardless, it is fun to write response and to read the observations others make about Martin’s series.

Thanks for a great thread topic!

Sorry about the font screw ups. Everytime I hit post, something screws up something in my post!



#9 StarkTagaryen

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 11:12 AM

/bowdown.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':bowdown:' /> /bowdown.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':bowdown:' /> WOLFMAID: Nice observations!

I am leading a reread dealing specifically with the direwolves of House Stark as well as dragons [eggs], Mormont’s raven, and cats, oh my! So I have been writing a series of analytical pieces on symbols, so I have tons of items to contribute to this post. I will try to curb my enthusiasm and start with a basic color symbology: Grey. I do not extend this beyond evidences up through Chapter 15 of AgoT, so I am sure “grey” appears in important locations later in Martin’s series. Since we try [not very successfully] not to jump ahead, I often find it necessary when looking at the far-reaching relevance of Martin’s use of symbol. [BBTW/ you are welcome to post in our reread. We need some contributors, and with the holidays upon us, people have been taken away from the net in pursuit of other duties and the like!]



SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLOR GREY



The color grey in Martin’s ASoIaF is symbolic, and thus far in the series, Martin attaches “grey” to aspects of the Starks: Ned, Jon, and Arya have the Stark grey eyes. The world that is the cold north where Winterfell lies is “grey”. The Direwolves of House Stark are associated with “grey”: Grey Wind has “smoke grey fur” and yellow eyes. Lady has “grey fur” and yellow eyes. Nymeria has a hundred little grey cousins, and her eyes are yellow. Summer is silver and smoky grey with yellow eyes. [Shaggydog is all black with bright green eyes, and Ghost is all white with red eyes. Even though these wolves are not “grey”, they each distinguish a color that, when combined, makes “grey”: black and white].



Moreover, the banners of House Stark of Winterfell presents a grey direwolf racing across an ice-white field. Ned’s Valyrian steel blade Ice was spell-forged, and is described as “dark as smoke” (14). The Wall often seems “a pale grey, the color of an overcast sky” (183). Maester Luwin wears grey robes, and Catelyn thinks of a grey rat when he pulls something from one of his many sleeves. The stone walls of Winterfell are grey, and are depicted as such in the graphic novel volume I. Last, Ned Stark’s ward from the Iron Islands is named Theon “Greyjoy”. Thus, as we progress through AGoT, we may find other applications of “grey” as a symbolically significant color.



According to The On-Line Dictionary of Symbology, [http://www.umich.edu...ml/G/gray.html]

·“Gray is often seen as neutral, depression, and humility.”

a.Neutral: Grey is the neutral of black and white. Or we could say that a “grey” character is part good and part evil, for white and black often represent goodness and evil, respectively.

b.Depression: King Robert finds the cold north grey and “depressing”. The grey-green colors of the godswood depress Catelyn.

c.Humility: the quality of being modest or respectful – Jon Snow is the most modest and respectful of the Starks from my view thus far. He always puts his brothers and sisters above his own personal gain, and he is obedient to a fault, even joining Benjen Stark at the Wall as a recruit for the Night’s Watch, as his father no doubt instructed him.

·“Ashes are usually grey in color, and therefore a natural correlation exists between the two.”

a.Ashes are relevant to many situations involving flames and burning in future POV’s.

b.In Catelyn’s next POV, the library tower in Winterfell is set on fire.

·“commonly views grey as symbolic of death of the body while the soul remains eternal.”

a.The dead Stark lords and Kings of Winter reside in the Winterfell crypts, a stone monument carved in their likenesses with a stone direwolf at their feet.

b.If the Stark remains are buried in the crypts, then perhaps the “soul” that “remains eternal” resides in the heart tree in the godswood of Winterfell.

·“Hebrew tradition relates the color grey to wisdom.”

a.I am not sure about the Hebrew religion, but I do know that in Homeric mythology and epics, Athene, the goddess of war and wisdom, is depicted as having grey eyes, and she is often called “owl-eyed Athene”, for the Greek deities were anthropomorphic and each god/goddess has an animal association. The “grey eyes” of Athene denotes “wisdom” just as the owl is a symbol of wisdom as well.

b.The grey eyes of Athene seemingly applies to the grey eyes of the Starks, which may suggest wisdom on some level.

c.The brain is often depicted as grey in color on anatomy charts, etc.



The meaning of the color grey as described in “The Herder Dictionary of Symbols: Symbols from Art, Archaeology, Literature and Religion” is as follows:

  • “Grey consists equally of black and white,”
  • I cannot think of an instance where black and white in equal proportions combine to make grey, but there are instances when black and white are significant, as in the direwolves Shaggydog and Ghost.
  • Jon Snow has a bastard last name of “Snow”, he owns a white direwolf, and he wears black as a brother of the Night’s Watch.
  • Jon Snow is Ice, and perhaps he will be balanced by a “black” force, or “fire”, which when it burns often chars and blackens what it feeds upon, ultimately leaving ash. [I am stretching here – but I also think of Dany’s Drogon and his counterpart Jon’s Ghost!].
  • “it is the color of mediation and compensating justice,”
  • Perhaps the “mediation” and justice” stem from #8, the grey cloak that Christ wears as judge at the Last Judgment.
  • Ned uses his sword Ice to deliver “the king’s justice”, as he does with a deserter of the Night’s Watch in Bran POV I of AGoT.
  • The maesters in their grey attire serve as mediators and advisers to their liege lords and family.
  • it is the color of “ intermediate realms” (e.g., in folk belief it is the color of the dead and of spirits that walk abroad).
  • In the graphic novel volume I, the crypts of Winterfell are depicted in shades of grey, which reaffirms #3.
  • “In Christianity it is the color of the resurrection of the dead and of the cloak that Christ wears as judge at the Last Judgment.”
  • If the crypts are associated with grey, then I suppose if the dead Starks and Kings of Winter rise, they may as well be grey, which fits with the grey association with the Starks and the north in general.
I apologize for the bold face. I am having format problems posting from a word document, and I cannot adjust it. /dunno.gif' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':dunno:' />


That's really impressive! I don't think I ever really thought about the color grey, I mostly hone in on Jon's direwolf, Ghost, white: sacred, pure, winter, etc.

#10 wolfmaid7

wolfmaid7

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 01:36 PM

WOLFMAID 7: To answer your question, yes! I think Martin is an extremely detail-oriented writer with excellent organizational skills and a mind filled with ideas as deep as infinity. I suppose anything I might say about the writer will appear eulogistic because I am a great reader and lover of literature, and I will read classics, young adult literature, and the cereal box. So I feel I have as much authority as any astute reader to propose that Martin actually means what he writes, and those characters Martin discloses to his readers, as well as the places Martin envisions, have a purpose. Martin revisits characters and places, even if only through dreams or memories. He has created an amazing series with complex plot developments, which he tells through POV’s assigned only to a privileged set of characters, and he does this with a purpose and determination that marks him as a master of creating a fictional identity.

Martin labors over his writing, and he even writes major events from multiple POV’s before committing himself to one. This tedious process hints at how he may study adding an element and planning its importance before adding it randomly because it sounds good. I am sure he carries a little notebook to write down observations he makes while about his daily business when he is not writing. I imagine he has a mind that is always at work, and he can probably find inspiration in a fish aquarium in his doctor’s office!

Anyways, Martin may not be like Ireland’s James Joyce, author of Ulysses and Finnigan’s Wake, two novels that were monumental undertakings of Joyce who writes with meticulous meanness, and every word has symbolic relevance in relation to each chapter and its placement in the work as a whole. In Ulysses, the reader follows Leopold Bloom on his walking tour of Dublin, and when I visited Dublin, tourists can walk Leopold Bloom’s path and visit the bars he does in the novel, which takes place in a twenty-four hour day. The steps and the times are all coordinated to the minute and foot.
But Joyce wrote for the educated readers who wanted a substantial novel with a scholastic edge, and Joyce felt that he did not have to water-down his prose just so the average Joe could read and comprehend it. So in Joyce’s work, he uses punctuation marks as major symbols, enlarging the size of a period to encompass the entire page at the end of Molly Bloom’ s monologue, and as she finishes, her monthly visitor arrives, hence the “period”. Joyce’s works are literary classics, and although I respect Joyce as a writer and as a major contributor to modern fiction, I also find him exclusive and intimidating.
Martin is more like F. Scott Fitzgerald and his strong writing style demonstrated in The Great Gatsby, a novel that Martin referenced in an interview in Rolling Stone this past summer. Martin says, and I paraphrase, he has never attended Gatsby’s parties but they are more real to him than those he has attended. So, I think Martin is a Gatsby fan, and I even see a few parallels in Martin’s series with Fitzgerald’s novels: the bespeckled eyes of Dr. TJ Eckleberg, an advertisement for an optometrist on a billboard worn with age, watches over the Valley of the Ashes just as the brooding-faced heart tree watches over the people who pass in front of it in the godswood in Martin’s novel.

I had a professor who said that Fitzgerald, as Joyce, was arrogant and boasted in literary circles that scholars will never find all that he has hidden in The Great Gatsby! Despite his front of superiority, Fitzgerald does develop a literary masterpiece smartly written in nine compact chapters that also evidence the dominant theme of fertility in the novel, with the rivalry between East and West Egg, narrated by Nick Carraway, as in “carraway” seed.

Since Fitzgerald wrote simple prose loaded with symbolic significance, his writing appealed to those wanting more meaty fare as well as the popular masses looking for a good story about espionage, bootlegging, Prohibition, adultery, and money. Likewise, Martin’s series appeals to readers on many planes of scholarly analyses, but he also appeals to readers who want a great fantasy story with lots of action: thus, Martin makes sure to cover both realms of reader appreciation, which is awesome. That is why I say he is more like Fitzgerald.

Another writer who peppers his prose with literary elements is American satirist Mark Twain, who loved to include literary references to his name “twain”, or two. In his novel Huckleberry Finn, at the exact center of the text if you open it to the half-way point, Twain plants the technical climax where Huck decides “I will go to hell” which is pivotal because Huck decides to help free Jim even though to do so is against his religion and the law.

Also, Twain employs “doubles” and even places himself in his works. In Huck, Twain appears as the white-suited man balancing bareback on a horse running a ring in a circus Huck attends. Likewise, Jim is a double to pap, Huck’s father. Huck has several doubles, the most poignant Buck who is killed senselessly in a feud modeled after the Hatfield and McCoys.

Visit the thread entitled Homages where readers post the nods Martin makes to literary works as well as modern day pop culture, including little gems hidden in regards to athletes and sports teams. I have many posts paralleling Martin’s works to actual line-for-line passages from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. I added my documentations of Martin’s homage to the great epics of Homer and Homeric myth.

So, to conclude, I do think Martin uses symbols decisively and deliberately. He juggles as many motifs as Fitzgerald in Gatsby, and Martin does it in fine form. If you are a reader who likes to delve into deeper meanings of a work, then Martin will appeal to you. Yet if you are a reader who wants a good story, Martin will appeal to you too.
Sorry for rambling. I love comparative literature, so finding such an awesome organization as Westeros, I finally have a venue to share my ideas with others, who may only find them long-winded an boring. Regardless, it is fun to write response and to read to observations others make about Martin’s series.

Thanks for a great thread topic!

Sorry about the font screw ups. Everytime I hit post, something screws up something in my post!

Thank you for your post, i too am a sucker for Symbolism. I really think that it adds depth to writing that in my opinion is lacking-generally speaking- in today's written works.I admit that Authors like Twain,Chopin,Hawthorne etc. Have been some of my favorite writers because of their style. Later on i gravitated towards more of the fantasy/sci-fi genre and i've been hooked. After i read 'The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" by Stephen Donaldson i thought i'd read the book,but i must bow in the presence of Martin's writing.

His use of classical and Mythical Archetypes is really good, i am a Nurse by profession but i teach writing and reading to kids on the side; i often employ global myths to teach them,it opened up the world to me, so why not to them.Martin really restored my faith in literature. Yes its gritty but the essence of the tale is real, it mirrors the good,bad and ugly nature of the human condition.

I also like that i can look at characters in ASOFAI and see ISIS or Stannis and see the Fisher King. I totally agree with you on the Martin/Fitzgerald comparison.

I do not find your post long or boring, i myself am prone to ramblings. Too much it the mind to effectively put on paper lol.

I wish i had your gift of organization..seriously everything you said i could say that's exactly what i wanted to say,but you said it better.